Run, Girl (If You Can) - Chapter 222 - You'll Always Be Aaron Hale[Updated at: 2021-01-11 19:16:05]
Keeley couldn\'t take it anymore. She finally blurted what had been on her mind more and more lately.
"If you noticed all these things about me from the beginning why didn\'t you ever say anything?"
Aaron looked at her blankly. "I already told you, I didn\'t exactly know how to love somebody back then. Now I realize I kept too many things to myself."
"Like what?" He shifted nervously, refusing to answer, and she sighed. "Just tell me, I won\'t get weird about it. I\'ve been wondering about this for a long time."
His hands gripped his bowl of ice cream, the remains of which had all melted. He refused to meet her eyes.
"A lot of things. I should have told you properly how much you meant to me. Like how you brought warmth into my cold world or how much I loved having you drag me around and experiencing new things through your eyes. Your excitement has always been contagious.
"I never made it clear…but you were my first real friend. My best friend. I didn\'t even know I could care about other people until I met you. I should have told you how brilliant, beautiful, and funny you were. How simply seeing you could make everything better.
"Most importantly, I should have told you I loved you. Because I did, more than anything. I was just an idiot who couldn\'t get the words out because I had never heard it from anyone else before you came along."
Well, she did ask for it. But that was way more information than Keeley bargained for!
Aaron still wouldn\'t look at her but she could hear the sincerity in his voice. For once, he wasn\'t speaking in monotone. There was more emotion infused into it than she had ever heard from him.
He truly did love her the whole time. Unbelievable. He had said it before but she hadn\'t really believed it because the way he treated her contradicted his words too much.
With everything she had seen lately…realizing that he really was an awkward, lonely person who wasn\'t used to dealing with people…she could almost believe it now. This was crazy. Everything she thought she knew was wrong.
She said she wouldn\'t make it weird so she decided the casual approach was best.
In an overly dramatic, teasing tone she said, "You really did never say it. I have no idea why I even married you since you never once told me you loved me."
He caught onto her tone and seemed relieved. He teased her back. "Probably because I\'m so handsome."
Keeley laughed. "And full of yourself, too! I can\'t deny it though; I did call you beautiful the other day."
"So you only married me for my looks? I\'m wounded."
"Hey, it\'s better than only marrying you for your money."
Aaron sobered instantly. "I know you\'re not like that. I\'m only messing around."
A commercial played in the silence following her statement. She had nearly forgotten she was supposed to be watching TV. She fumbled for the remote to skip through them.
"In all honesty though…since I was such an idiot, why did you marry me?" he asked.
She wouldn\'t have answered him if his tone had been anything other than slightly curious. She had asked him a personal question; it was fair game that she answered one too.
Keeley looked straight ahead at the TV as she spoke. "You were my best friend too. I didn\'t care about things like that back then; I was just happy to be with you."
He sighed and finally turned to face her. "Keeley, where did we go wrong? We were happy at one point, weren\'t we?"
"I think you already know the answer to that question."
"I do, but I want to hear it from your perspective."
That was a surprise. What was even more surprising was that they were having an actual conversation about this like civilized adults. Well, he was mentally in his sixties. That had to count for something in the way of maturity.
"I didn\'t belong in your world. You tried to force a square peg into a round hole and I was a doormat that let you without saying anything about it. You know, and then you kept it a secret from me that people were actively out to get me. That sucked."
Aaron sighed again. "That\'s what I thought, though I would have used different words. In case you haven\'t noticed…I\'m not really a part of that world anymore. It\'s easier for me to fit into yours."
Keeley hadn\'t thought about it that way but he had been fitting into her world. Eating non gourmet food. Hanging out with her dad and participating in silly Christmas traditions. Adopting a rescue pet. They even had some of the same friends in common now.
She knew where he was going with this. He believed the problems between them were fixable. Were they? The biggest obstacles had always been communication and the people in his life who were against her.
They were communicating now but that didn\'t necessarily change anything. Even if she wanted to try again—and she didn\'t—she would not put herself in danger again.
"Just because you aren\'t an active part of it doesn\'t mean it isn\'t there. You\'re still related to your parents. There are still people like Lacy Knighton trying to get a piece of you. I saw her at the bridal salon when I went with Jennica. She told me she was there picking out a dress to marry you."
Aaron scowled. "I wondered why you thought I was getting engaged to her. She\'s completely insane. My father set me up, which is why I had to ask the world\'s most ridiculous favor of Aiden."
She cracked a smile. She still couldn\'t believe he fake proposed to a man dressed in drag just to get Lacy to back off. It was too ridiculous.
But that posed another problem. Alistair would expect him to marry that fake fiancée eventually or else get engaged to someone else.
"Your life is too complicated. You still have to deal with your father."
"Not for much longer. I\'m confident I can kick him out of the company within the next two years. Then I\'ll never have to deal with him again."
Keeley would have wondered how someone could talk of their own father so callously if she wasn\'t aware what that monster did. Aaron\'s reaction was perfectly justified.
But no matter what he believed, he was still one of the most sought after men in the city. She wanted a normal life. Those two things could never mix.
"You\'ll always be Aaron Hale," she said simply.
He gave her a small, sad smile. "You didn\'t used to think that way. You were the only person who saw me as just Aaron."
"That was before I suffered because I shared your last name."
Aaron didn\'t say anything, which probably meant he saw her point. They finished watching the rest of the episode in silence but it wasn\'t as uncomfortable as it could have been. That little talk was oddly freeing.